When the Lord calls us to Himself and we respond by confessing our sins, repenting and ask Him into our lives, He literally promises the same thing to us today that He promised to the Israelites in the verses below. However, many hear verse 20 and sit and wait for God to do all the work and never grow in their relationship. Even though you may think that some of these passages do not apply to your walk with the Lord today, bear with me and we will see why they actually do. Specifics of situations may change, but application to the situations never change.
Before we take a few minutes to reflect on each verse (that is why I’ve laid them out separately), let us be reminded of how Jesus Christ has fulfilled these promises for us. Then look at the promises Jehovah made to them! God’s promises are not power and control, they are for our protection!
As I read these passages I am reminded of the greatness of our God and how little faith we truly have in Him today. We have forgotten the meaning of that divine relationship of what it truly means to be an heir to the throne. “When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.” (Colossians 2:13-15) We forget our heavenly position of being seated in Christ Jesus now! “and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,” (Ephesians 2:6) “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,” (Ephesians 1:3)
“that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:16-21)
Now let’s walk through Exodus 23:20-33:
“Behold, I am going to send an angel before you to guard you along the way and to bring you into the place which I have prepared.
21“Be on your guard before him and obey his voice; do not be rebellious toward him, for he will not pardon your transgression, since My name is in him.
22“But if you truly obey his voice and do all that I say, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries.
23“For My angel will go before you and bring you into the land of the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hivites and the Jebusites; and I will completely destroy them.
24“You shall not worship their gods, nor serve them, nor do according to their deeds; but you shall utterly overthrow them and break their sacred pillars in pieces.
25“But you shall serve the LORD your God, and He will bless your bread and your water; and I will remove sickness from your midst.
26“There shall be no one miscarrying or barren in your land; I will fulfill the number of your days.
27“I will send My terror ahead of you, and throw into confusion all the people among whom you come, and I will make all your enemies turn their backs to you.
28“I will send hornets ahead of you so that they will drive out the Hivites, the Canaanites, and the Hittites before you.
29“I will not drive them out before you in a single year, that the land may not become desolate and the beasts of the field become too numerous for you.
30“I will drive them out before you little by little, until you become fruitful and take possession of the land.
31“I will fix your boundary from the Red Sea to the sea of the Philistines, and from the wilderness to the River Euphrates; for I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand, and you will drive them out before you.
32“You shall make no covenant with them or with their gods.
33“They shall not live in your land, because they will make you sin against Me; for if you serve their gods, it will surely be a snare to you.”
God literally laid out His plan to the children of Israel as to what and how He was going to take them into the promised land. Many believe that Jesus was the angel who was sent to go before them. “Be on your guard before him and obey his voice; do not be rebellious toward him, for he will not pardon your transgression, since My name is in him.” (verse 21) The Apostle Paul confirms this fact in the following verse, “Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents.” (1 Corinthians 10:9)
Note that God warns them that He was specific about their part of the plan. I found verse 22 to be a key to the whole plan. God wasn’t looking for someone going through the motions, but one who was willing to be obedient out of love for Him.
Why did the Israelites fail to enter the promised land? They had no desire to be in relationship with their Lord, therefore they didn’t “love” Him. They chose to follow Moses, not God. “Then they said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen; but let not God speak to us, or we will die.” (Exodus 20:19) Notice they said they would “listen” to Moses, not obey, they didn’t trust Moses either!
We are of the same nature as the Israelites. We cry out to God to get us out of our circumstances and when He does, we still aren’t happy with the way He did it! Our rebellious nature doesn’t trust anyone, especially God. Why is that? Because to trust God means that we need to put aside “our ideas and plans”.
There is no doubt their lives as slaves were not good. They wanted to be free from bondage. However, as soon as they began the journey they began to complain because of what they did leave behind that they came reliant on. What was that? Food and shelter. So their hearts remained on what they didn’t have any longer instead of rejoicing and having a heart of thanksgiving for deliverance from slavery and bondage.
Instead of seeing God as The Deliverer and Defender, they remained stuck in their minds that they were in the desert without the foods they had become accustomed to. Their bodies may have been in a different location but mentally they were not set free. In their minds, they replaced the slave masters in Egypt, with the thought of Moses being their slave master. They kept accusing him of bringing them out to the desert to die! The sad reality is that their words condemned them and they allowed them to actually become reality! Our words are sharp swords, they shape our future! What are you shaping? “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” (Proverbs 18:21)
Are you believing what God says? God speaks to us in so many ways, through His Word, through the Holy Spirit, through written words, through music, and through others. Of course, everything must line up with the written Word in scripture. God never acts contrary to His nature.
Are you currently so focused on your present circumstances that you can’t even hear God’s promises to you? Our words, our complaints become idols in our lives. The words of our mouths reflect our heart condition. Are our words uplifting God’s sovereignty in our lives or are we actually in partnership with the devil denying God’s promises over us? The more we “hear” either positive or negative, the more we reflect what we are hearing because we begin to identify and get comfortable in that condition. There is even a greater concern with this state of being, scripture is clear that when we grumble and complain about our circumstances, we are actually grumbling ABOUT GOD! (Exodus 16:8) (Matthew 25:40)
What’s the alternative? Develop an attitude of gratitude and with thanksgiving acknowledging God’s blessing in our lives. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” (Philippians 4:6-8) “but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” (2 Peter 3:18) That’s what the Israelites never did. The Lord actually called them “stiffnecked”! I picture someone standing erect and immovable, as a building.
So, let’s walk through this passage of scripture and see the truth of God at work in our lives. “The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:9) The situation of the Israelites is no different than what you and I are navigating today, different places, different eras, same problems!
There is a double application in these scriptures. First of all we need to acknowledge our need of a Savior, that’s the first deliverance. However, even after becoming a believer, our old nature must also be delivered of the old ways of thinking and behaving on an ongoing basis. My prayer is that you will be honest and open to the leading of the Holy Spirit to speak to you and free you.
One of the first things I noticed in these passages was that God actually laid out His plan to establish trust with the Israelites so they could join Him in the journey with hearts of thanksgiving. That never happened, they remained in bondage. Why do I even point this out? One of the things I hear most often from believers (not just new believers) is that they don’t understand why God doesn’t give them a roadmap of what He is doing in their lives.
We have the evidence staring us in the face, it doesn’t develop a trusting and loving relationship with the Lord Jesus because we continue to think we know a “better way” and try to run ahead of where we need to be.
Let’s begin to extract some of God’s promises from these passages. First of all, God assures us that we never go on our journey alone. In the desert God sent an angel to lead them, today God has sent the Holy Spirit to lead us and to bring to remembrance everything we have heard. (John 14:26)
God also assures that He knows EXACTLY where He is leading us! ‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.’ (Jeremiah 29:11) “...Truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass. I have planned it, surely I will do it.” (Isaiah 46:11)
God is reminding the Israelites, and us today, that we are in His presence! Standing in the presence of the Holy One of Israel is daunting and glorious at the same time! We must never forget that He sees our every move and calls us to obedience for our protection. When we are rebellious we are sinning, intentionally sinning! Sin takes us out of God’s protective covering and leaves us vulnerable to attacks of the enemy, the sin nature within (Romans 6:12) and from the enemy, Satan, without (Ephesians 6:11). Outside of God’s will, He cannot fight for us because we have told him literally to “back off”! We are also telling Him the same thing by not responding to His will in how to live the surrendered life daily. In other words, your “no response silence” is spiritually deafening!
But when we walk in obedience God is our defender and goes before us to fight off the enemy’s attacks. You will note that God repeats Himself, reminding them He will totally destroy the enemy. However, we need to understand the whole plan and the importance of each day’s journey. God is telling them what He WILL do for them, but they also have to become a partner, be in covenant with Him. It requires obedience to His Word, which comes through being in relationship and worshipping Him! Rather than thinking only of ourselves, we place Him at the center of our lives.
A scripture that really stood out to me years ago that illustrated this so well, opened up my understanding of what that relationship looks like, even before Jesus’ ministry. “Now therefore, I pray You, if I have found favor in Your sight, let me know Your ways that I may know You, so that I may find favor in Your sight...” (Exodus 33:13)
“You shall not worship their gods, nor serve them, nor do according to their deeds; but you shall utterly overthrow them and break their sacred pillars in pieces.” (Exodus 23:24) The Lord continues and tells them that they are to serve Him only and He will bless them. Go back to the beginning and read again the promises that God reminded them of at this time. (For a more detailed description go to Deuteronomy 28 and read the blessings and curses.)
God’s provision was amazing! He gave them water out of a rock, on another occasion He sweetened bitter waters to make them drinkable, He provided manna (delivered fresh every morning!), their clothes never wore out, neither did their shoes! All of this to teach them trust and to show them His great love for them!
Here’s a challenge, what has God done for you to praise Him? There are so many things I could not list them all! But I do know that I would be dead if He didn’t have His hand on my life. When I realized that I was so humbled! I have experienced the great blessings and I have experienced the consequences of disobedience. I never want to go there again! The arrogance and pride that drives us to be disobedient cannot co-exist with the Almighty God. We have the choice to choose life or death. Let’s read these passages together, they lay out the solid foundation and the shifting sand, which do you choose today?
“See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity in that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, that you may live and multiply, and that the LORD your God may bless you in the land where you are entering to possess it. But if your heart turns away and you will not obey, but are drawn away and worship other gods and serve them, (TV, sports, work, hobbies, computer games, addictions, etc.) I declare to you today that you shall surely perish. You will not prolong your days in the land where you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess it. I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, by loving the LORD your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life and the length of your days, that you may live in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.” (Deuteronomy 30:15-20)
Abba Father, thank You for life in Your Son Jesus Christ. Thank You for the wakeup call today and reminder of Your lovingkindness which never ceases. Thank You that You love us too much to leave us as we were. And, thank You, that You give us free will to choose You. You are not a task master that desires to keep us in bondage. You sent Your Son to set me free! Help me Lord to be more like You. Thank You that greater are You in me than he who is in the world! (I John 4:4) and if You are for me, who can be against me? (Romans 8:31) We know that all things work together for good to those who love You and are called according to Your purpose (Romans 8:28), so I bow down in worship. Here I am Lord, send me. I pray that through Christ I will lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles me, and run with endurance the race You have set before me (Hebrews 12:1). I love You! Amen.